What’s the difference between project management and operations management?
This brief post summarises the main differences between ongoing operations and projects .
Why Project Management Is Different to Operations Management
Operations Management is an ongoing organisational function that performs activities to produce products or supply services. For instance, production operations, manufacturing, IT service management, and accounting operations.
Furthermore, operations are permanent endeavours that produce repetitive outputs. Resources are assigned to do the same tasks according to operating procedures and policy.
In contrast, projects are temporary and help the business to meet organisational goals and to respond quickly and easily to the external environment. Organisations use projects to change operations, products and services to meet business need, gain competitive advantage and respond to new markets.
Projects require project management whereas operations requires business process management or operations management. However, projects and operations do meet at various points during the life-cycle of a product or service. For example when:
- Re-engineering business processes,
- Developing or changing product and services, and
- Improving operations or product development.
The goal of process management is to improve processes continually. Improving operational processes may increase effectiveness, cut costs and gain competitive advantage.
Projects are about driving change in the organisation. For instance, using business process re-engineering to align business need with customer expectation.
Moreover, the skills needed by the project manager are different to those needed by operational managers.
|Project Manager||Operational Manager|
|Role ends with project||Routine|
|Temporary team||Stable organisation|
|Many different skills||Specialist skills|
|Work not done before||Work repeatable|
|Time, cost and scope constraints||Annual planning cycle|
|Difficult to estimate time and budget||Budgets set and fixed events|
Have I missed anything?
How would you describe the difference between project management and operations management?
Creative Commons image courtesy Calvin Cardenas.